Lemon everything is my favorite. Lemon bars especially! This is the only lemon bar recipe I ever make thanks to Ina Garten.
Though I think I'm going to work on a dairy free version soon so I can eat ALL OF THEM BY MYSELF. Only having one of these was an exercise in willpower.
Lemon bars might seem a little tricky, but I promise these are so easy and nearly foolproof. They're very forgiving and always taste amazing! Also, powdered sugar hides a myriad of baking sins. You'll do fine. :D
Step 1: Ingredients + Tools
for the crust:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 cups flour
- pinch of salt
for the filling:
- 6 eggs at room temperature
- 3 cups white sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4-ish lemons)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (6-8 lemons)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
You'll also want some powdered sugar to dust over the top when they're done!
Step 2: Make the Crust
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl for a couple minutes until it's light and fluffy. Then add in the flour and salt and mix just until combined. The dough will be fairly crumbly but will stick together if pressed!
Flour your hands and your work surface well and form the dough into a nice ball. Once it's come together, you can start to flatten it out. :)
Step 3: Form the Crust + Chill
Now you'll press the dough down into a 9x13 pan lined with aluminum foil.
[ You don't have to line it, really, but you'll thank me later when you can just pull the whole thing of lemon bars out with ease. ;) ]
Flatten the dough as best you can and form a 1/2 inch tall lip all around the edges. This will hold the filling in.
Don't worry too much about getting it perfect - one of the best things about lemon bars is that they're very forgiving and always taste great! :D
Once the crust has been formed to the pan, put it into the fridge for at least a half hour to chill. Longer is better!
(You should preheat your oven to 350 F near the end of the chilling time, too!)
Step 4: Pre-bake the Crust
Once the crust has chilled for a bit, bake it in a 350 F oven for 15-20 minutes. You want it to be very slightly golden brown.
If you find that it's puffed up and the lips on the sides aren't as pronounced as they were, you can gently press down on the crust to reform it. :)
Set it aside to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling. Leave the oven on - you'll put the bars back in soon!
Step 5: Juice and Zest the Lemons
Remember to wash your lemons well before zesting!
Zest the lemons before cutting to make it easier. I use a microplane for this part - makes it go really fast! About four lemons gave me the right about of zest.
Then you'll want to juice your lemons to get a cup of lemon juice. It should take you between 6-8 lemons to get the cup. Since I'm using an old manual juicer, I like to pour the juice through a sieve to make sure no seeds get through. :)
Step 6: Make the Filling
Once you have the lemon juice and zest ready, you can make the filling.
Combine all the filling ingredients (flour, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs) in a bowl and whisk very well. This will take a couple minutes to mix up. You don't want any lumps!
Step 7: Bake the Bars
Pour the finished filling over the crust. Try to keep it within the crust - you may not be able to put it all in and that's okay! I like to pour most of it in on the counter and then top it off in the oven. You can fit more in that way without spilling. :D
Now you'll put the bars back into the 350 F oven for 30-35 minutes.
You want the filling to be totally set - if you see any jiggling it needs more time!
And no worries if the edges are a little brown - they're extra delicious! :)
Step 8: Cool + Enjoy!
Cool the bars to room temperature or put them in the fridge for a couple hours. They cut easier and taste much better when they're cool.
Dust powdered sugar over the top and dig in! :D
Store these guys in the fridge for best results - but I guarantee you won't have any left after the first couple of days. They're just too good!